EXPLAINS HOW HABITS ARE FORMED. DESCRIBES THE SOCIAL & PERSONAL ADVANTAGES RESULTING FROM THE FORMATION OF GOOD DAILY HABITS.
Ken Smith sez: As this film opens, we see "Barbara," a teenager, weeping into her hands. "It's a little late for tears, isn't it?" asks the unforgiving narrator. Barbara, she informs us, has had a bad day -- but because she is sloppy and unorganized, she deserved it. We then travel back in time and see how Barbara's day became a nightmare; how she was invited to an after-school party with an important new social group; and how her poor grooming and unpolished manners sent her straight to Social Hell. The narrator gleefully reminds us "how easy it is not to be invited again," and "how quickly you can be left out of the crowd." "People are going to talk," she adds, and when they talk, "our faults are more easily discussed." By this point we're back to the beginning of the film, and Barbara is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Happily, she sees the light, and becomes lovely, better-groomed and (we hope) never again the subject of films such as this. Relentless.
Habit Patterns, another film built on the Goofus and Gallant model (see You and Your Friends), compares the behavior of two teenage girls Ñ Helen, a model citizen in every respect, and Barbara, a slob. The bleakness of Barbara's existence (and that stain on her sweater) still strains the emotions of audiences today, as it will yours.
Produced by a New York City-based company, Habit Patterns feels quite different from the Centron, Coronet and Britannica films of the time. It's set in an upper- or upper-middle-class milieu that was far from the experience of most American youth. The girls live in houses of considerable size (probably in Westchester County or northern New Jersey) and discuss their summer plans to visit decidedly high-toned places. When Barbara's sloppy appearance and social ungainliness mark her a must to avoid, then, it isn't just how she behaves Ñ there's something else wrong with her, as well. She just doesn't belong with the rest of the girls. This is a mixed message, but not an unintended one Ñ when the narrator tells us how we meet people all the time, and how people will always talk about us, she is referring to Society with a capital S. But even as class issues are shown with some clarity, they are not named as such.
This is also crueler than the Coronets, but given teenagers' propensity to be nasty to outsiders, maybe more authentic. It's also good deal truer to life when Barbara's behavior problems aren't neatly resolved in fifteen short film minutes, and the relentless woman narrator advises her to get some good sleep to be ready for tomorrow.
HABITS HEALTH AND SAFETY PSYCHOLOGY BEHAVIOR SOCIAL GUIDANCE GROWTH ADOLESCENCE TEENAGERS MATURATION PERSONALITY CLEANLINESS Breakfasts Meals Disorganization
Danger Lurks Safety